L.A. North: Games of the Week

Canyon will be facing a tough defense when it takes on Valencia in a key Foothill League game. Tim Haddock/For ESPNLA.com

The Canyon football team has been rolling over opponents, averaging 49.8 points. The Valencia football team has been shutting down opposing offenses, yielding an average of 12.2 points.

When the two teams meet on Friday night at Valencia High School, it will be a classic matchup of an explosive offense vs. a stingy defense.

Except that the Valencia offense woke up against West Ranch in the Foothill League opener last week.

Valencia (3-3), the reigning Foothill League champ, scored a season-high 31 points in a 31-14 win over West Ranch. Running back Jake Solley rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns for Valencia, which came into the game averaging only 13.6 points.

Canyon (6-0), the No. 20 team in the ESPNLA top 25 rankings, is coming off a 51-28 win over Saugus. The Cowboys eclipsed the 50-point mark for the fourth time this season and have been beating teams by a average margin of 36 points per game.

Canyon quarterback Jonathan Jerozal threw three touchdowns passes, two to receiver Drew Wolitarsky, in the game against Saugus. But Canyon coach Rich Gutierrez said it was the emergence of the running attack that has led to Canyon’s high scores and eye-popping statistics.

Canyon running back Max Archuleta has rushed for 727 yards and scored eight touchdowns in six games. He is averaging 121.1 yards per game and 7.8 yards per carry. Gutierrez says Archuleta is a phenomenal athlete, but he had no idea how much of an impact he would make on the offense.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Gutierrez said. “The offensive line is doing their thing. It's execution. It’s increased our options.”

With a running game that demands attention, Jerozal and Wolitarsky have been able to shine throughout the season. It has also given receivers Coley Apsay and Brenden Stach chances to make plays.

Gutierrez calls Apsay, the starting point guard on the Canyon basketball team, his team’s most consistent player.

“Coley’s one of our best athletes,” Gutierrez said. “He’s a solid possession receiver.”

Valencia will definitely be the toughest defense Canyon has faced all season. But Gutierrez says he expects a tough game every week.

“They have great players, great coaches,” Gutierrez said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Saugus, but I almost see every week as the toughest test we have. I see every game as a tough game. They got talented kids. It’s good stuff.”

Here’s a look at some of the other top games in the L.A. North:

No. 2 Westlake (6-0) at Moorpark (4-2), Friday (7 p.m.) – This week is looking like an important one in the Marmonte League. Moorpark is tied with Simi Valley for fifth place in league and still has to play Oaks Christian. Westlake is in control of its own destiny, undefeated and awaiting a showdown with St. Bonaventure in the league finale on Nov. 11.

Agoura (0-6) at No. 3 St. Bonaventure (5-1), Friday (7 p.m.) – St. Bonaventure has allowed only 47 points in five Marmonte League games, an average of 9.4 points per game. Agoura has scored only 62 points in five league games. That’s 12.4 points per game. It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to figure out how this game will play out.

Thousand Oaks (5-1) at No. 13 Oaks Christian (4-2), Friday (7 p.m.) – Thousand Oaks has looked good in its last three games, wins over Newbury Park, Royal and Agoura. But Oaks Christian is a much different animal. Quarterback Brandon Dawkins is coming off a record-breaking performance for Oaks Christian and the Lions need to run the table to keep pace with St. Bonaventure and Westlake.

No. 16 Bishop Amat (5-2) at No. 14 Crespi (5-1), Friday (7 p.m.) – It’s only the second week of Serra League play and Bishop Amat is in a corner. Alemany beat Amat in the league opener and snapped the Lancers’ four-game winning streak. Crespi is breathing a sigh of relief after narrowly beating Sherman Oaks Notre Dame relying on special teams for three touchdowns. The Celts have home-field advantage, but they can’t expect special teams to score two touchdowns and set up a third again.

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (5-2) at No. 18 Loyola (5-1) at L.A. Valley College, Friday (7:30 p.m.) – After winning its first five games of the season, Notre Dame is trying to avoid a three-game losing streak. The Knights lost to Chaminade by four points and Crespi by two points. Loyola had a bye last week and two weeks to prepare for its Serra League opener. It’s a must win for both teams.

Harvard-Westlake (4-2) at No. 22 Chaminade (5-1), Friday (7:30 p.m.) – After a 31-6 blowout over St. Paul, Chaminade emerged as the new No. 1 team in the CIF-Southern Section Western Division poll this week. Harvard-Westlake lost to St. Francis on a last-second field goal, 23-20, last week. The Wolverines are having a nice season, but they are in for a rude awakening against Chaminade.

St. Francis (6-0) at Gardena Serra (4-2), Friday (7 p.m.) – St. Francis will take its undefeated record on the road against a depleted Gardena Serra team. St. Francis is coming off a 23-20 win over Harvard-Westlake in the Mission League opener. The Golden Knights have been living dangerously though. Three of their wins have been by a combined nine points. Serra shut out Catherdral 40-0 last week.